Emmett Ramstad

Given the terrible federal oppression of LGBTQ in the last few weeks, challenging discrimination in daily life and policy are absolutely crucial. Artist Emmett Ramstad, a trans artist, sees anti-transgender bathroom legislation as a way to police gender. Drawing parallels to other discrimination in the US, Ramstad is interested in using art to confront the ongoing enforcement of exclusionary policies that target marginalized communities. 

“Safe” (2016) // photo c/o Hyperallergic; by Sean Smuda

“Safe” (2016) // photo c/o Hyperallergic; by Sean Smuda

People are rewarded for exhibiting fear and making themselves monitors. 

In an interview with Hyperallergic, Ramstad explains what the current politics around the bathroom bill mean but also how they're symbolic of so much more. Creating physical installations that challenge the notion of a bathroom, it invitesdialogue about privacy, segregation, shame and choice. 

“You’re Welcome” (2016) removed gender segregated bathroom signage, replaced bathroom signage // photo c/o Hyperallergic, by Erin Young

“You’re Welcome” (2016) removed gender segregated bathroom signage, replaced bathroom signage // photo c/o Hyperallergic, by Erin Young

Whena sked about the work "Safe", which has been lined with a picket face, Ramstead explains:

"What is neutrality? Is gender ever neutral? Perhaps these so called neutral ones are actually the segregated ones? I think about how the common bathroom stall colors are variations of “neutral” beige, the same tones that are popular Home Depot carpet colors, siding on homes in the suburbs, khaki uniforms — these product colors are being sold as neutral or customizable but are so industrialized. Stores and commercial buildings buy these steel bathroom partitions so that they are the same, recognizable across different kinds of spaces. Neutral is produced as something you can really see difference against. And, yes, the fence is emblematic of this neoliberal agenda in the United States and the idea that one can purchase safety, privacy, and freedom if you have the means. Single stall “gender neutral” bathrooms awkwardly reflect the institutions that make them. “Just buy those trans people a bathroom so that they stop trying to come into ours; that will fix it. Keep them separate so that we don’t have to feel confused.” I’m not sure this strategy will ever fix the problem, which is so much about segregation, othering."
The entire interview is worth a read so head on over to Hyperallergic for more.